Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making fuzzy Mohair critters and needle felting with reverse barbs

 All my favorite fibers in one giant needle felt critter . Ears are white bamboo and pink merino . The core is a blend of med fine wool with a nice thick layer of alpaca and mohair .

 This was the first time I have tried the reverse felting with mohair and I have to say that it looks pretty bad after you first felt the mohair down . However, as soon as your reverse felt the area it becomes a nice shaggy coat of shiny bliss . You do lose some of the fiber as it is being pulled back out but if you lay down a nice layer it doesn't matter . All the animals have been brushed and any lose fiber removed but they are still nice and bushy .
 I do trim the alpaca face on the top of the nose but left the rest because I like the shaggy look .
 This shows the length if the white mohair fiber which works great for my large animals but would probably have to be trimmed for smaller animals .
This is an attempt to take a picture in my living room during the after noon and with the sliding door shades open....(still looks like a cave) . The metal ruler shows the height of animals, each about 12 inches of leg and 10-12 inches of body and head .

 This is my second mohair animal in a rather unusual posture ., A bit like a runners stretch .
 MY BF found it to be confusing to the eye , as if one leg was shorter then the other rather then just tucked up and bent . AH well, can't please everyone .
Look who appeared in the middle of the photo shoot . Max is really jealous of all the hours I spend making my animals .
 Above and below are the medium size critters I made this month....I really can't understand why I seem to be felting so slowly lately . Only 4 animals this past month ? Am I being abducted by aliens because I seem to be losing hours .

Having fallen in love with the mohair, I ordered some on-line this past week and now very confused . Below is a picture of two different sellers fiber....both are marked 4oz 100% mohair .and could not look or feel more different .

The one on the left is a beautiful blend of fall tones and is really soft but unlike alpaca, also has a nice shine . The one on the right looks like human hair, ( and all the mohair I have bought in the past ). It is very long, thick, shiny and makes a beautiful coat of fur on my animals but I couldn't believe that it was actually 4 OZ as it is so much denser and heavier by size then most animal fibers . Perhaps the left mohair is just smaller broken bits and that makes it seem  fluffier ? Anyone care to way in I would love your opinions . Without a DNA test I could not swear that the one on the left is not pure mohair and without a scale could not attest that the one on the right is not 4oz but....I do wonder .

Last and least, (to everyone but me), I fixed my multi-needle tool dilemma .
 Above is my solution to a more comfortable felting tool . The part on the left is the aluminum base(covered in leather) that holds 4-6 needles . The middle bit is something I picked up at AXman just a bit of plastic with a hole in it to hold the needles in place and the top on right is the old bottom for my red handled felt tool that wore out . This fits much more comfortably in my hand then the original metal top .
 Below is the little Tupperware of my needle essentials.....multi tool "re-vamped" and  tube with extra needles in different sizes to fit in tool . I also have several individual needles that I wrap in old pieces of leather that I have put two sided tape on . I get the tape at Axman and I think it is used for sticking carpets to floor and not the thinner tape used in sealing windows . Anyway, it works great and I always carry extra strips incase I need to wrap a needle and it also works to protect your fingers . I also carry a fingernail file because my fingers get rough from all the needle pokes and it drives me nuts to work with fiber and rough fingers .
That's it for the month . Another one that just seemed to fly by getting little done .

Monday, July 2, 2012

Is Taxidermy still creepy if no animals were killed making it ?

Firstly, this is almost exactly one month of needle felting done while working a full time job,(which allows me about 4 hours of felting each night and another 6 hours before and after work),as well as Physical Therapy 3X a week . The injury has also slowed me down but I'm not sure if that is a temporary or permanent situation . What I have been wondering is if there will ever come a time when I could sell my art for a price that would allow me to live on what I make . At this rate, I doubt it, but perhaps as more people become aware of needle felting as a form of sculpture it will gain value ? Even without the extra time of not having a "real job" , I would have to allow for all the hours of marketing, going to art/craft fairs and doing all the other mundane self promotion needed to sell . It's daunting, as like many people, I would love to support myself doing something I love and creating these fuzzy friends is a true passion for me  .

When I began felting it was with a single , size 40 needle . Needless to say, that would not be effective for making the large animals I am making now . The past year or so I started using a 4 needle tool (with the red handle) and it has been great . Problem is that over time the wood eventually became a bit warped from the constant friction and the needles were no long completely vertical which makes them vulnerable to bending and breaking , So, I recently bought the metal felting tool on the right that I then covered in leather . It is very sturdy which is great but it does not feel as comfortable in my hand as the other one . The ideal solution would be something with the wooden top and the metal bottom . I think that is a pretty easy fix so will work on that soon .

Sorry for the redundant picture but I wanted to see what they looked like with different lighting as lighting has still been my nemesis when taking pictures . Even with clear skies, we get so little light in this apartment that it often feels like a cave. I love caves but not the best place to take pictures and using a flash makes the images so grainy . I have a private fantasy that some local photographer will see my animals and want to exchange their photo skills for a chance to sell my animal images ....unlikely, I'm afraid I will have to save up money to pay someone to take some nice nature shots of my animals . Maybe this fall when the leaves are changing color as I think they would look great with the mostly brown critters .

So, above gets back to actual topic of this blog . What are your opinions of Taxidermy ? I love animals but I do have a secret love of taxidermy, (as well as a love of bones and fur) . I don't want any animals to be killed but if they are dead....well, it should still be gruesome to have a dead thing in my living room....and yet . I still find it beautiful because the animals are beautiful . I guess it is just one of those unpleasant realities of being a human who holds contrary values and esthetics in the same brain . The mounted needle felted heads are a compromise of sorts . They are fuzzy and I think cute but with that touch of the forbidden . I haven't yet attached anything on the back to mount them on the wall but I think they also look interesting snout up on a table . The two above are both reverse felted and have baby alpaca locks needle felted into them <----incredibly time consuming but the best way to create the natural fur look without killing any animals .

So that is it for the month . The summer appears to be either filled with rain or baking hot, which does not go well with my bodies own hot flashes . So I sit in my cozy cave with British TV shows on Netflix creating my own little world of fuzzy critters . Things could be much worse . Hope you have found your own small comforts this summer .


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